The activities of the Department of XIX Century and Contemporary Art, multiple by nature, aims and extension, relate to scientific research and documentation, the functions of conservation and education, and the enhancement of our modern and contemporary heritage, as well as the direction of restoration works.
Constant effort is dedicated to the care and transformation of layouts, to enable the best possible use of the works and the historical spaces that contain them, and the rotation of the works on display (around 500 out of 8400). This involves continual updating, including the rearrangement in 2000 of all the rooms beneath the Sistine Chapel, 15-37; the opening of the Matisse Room in 2011, the Marino Marini Room in 2015, and the Studio Azzurro Room in 2016.
Alongside this, the Department dedicates attention and energy to historic and critical study and to archive research on the works in the Collection, of the more extensive artistic heritage within its competence and the historic context in which the pontiffs’ political and cultural choices developed [Revealing the Present through History. The Vatican and International Expositions (1851-2015), 2016]. This research, thanks to the collaboration of scholars and researchers, has converged in the publication of reasoned, general or specific catalogues, and monographic or thematic volumes or those relating to restoration interventions (La Sala dell’Immacolata di Francesco Podesti, 2010).
Particularly important are the studies intended for the organization or participation in international exhibitions and conferences (Musei e Monumenti in guerra 1939-1945 – Londra, Parigi, Roma, Berlino, 2014), as well as collaborations with academic and museum institutions, aimed at defining joint scientific projects.
The Department engages in fruitful dialogue with artists, heirs and collectors, as well as with experts and institutions specialized in contemporary artistic research, in order to increase the Collection while respecting its nature and its specificities. In this direction we wish to highlight two key moments: the commissioning of the works for the participation in the 2013 Venice Biennale of Art and of Architecture in 2018; and the commission of a new Contemporary Photography Fund comprising around 200 works, created between 2015 and 2018.